The 2018 Barolos, Part 2

Two thousand and eighteen remains a mixed vintage that reflects the challenges of a growing season marked by heavy spring rains, intense summer heat and unbalanced weather during the final phase of ripening. There are some gorgeous 2018s out there, but finding them will take a bit of work. The best 2018s are beautifully perfumed, mid-weight Barolos that will drink well early. This report focuses mostly on late 2018 Barolo releases. Readers who want to learn more about the growing season and the events that shaped the vintage might want to revisit my article The Enigma of 2018 Barolo , published earlier this year. In short, my general view of 2018 has not changed. This is a chaotic vintage marked by tremendous heterogeneity in both styles and overall quality caused by problematic conditions throughout the growing season. PIEDMONT’S GOLDEN AGE Leaving the 2018s aside for a moment, this is an exciting time to be exploring the wines of Piedmont. Sure, some labels have ascended into the stratosphere in terms of pricing, but they remain anomalies. In my view, average quality across the region has never been higher. As I looked over the producers featured in this article, I could not help but notice how many are making better wines than ever before, even with 2018 thrown into the mix. The emergence of new estates has injected a level of youthful energy and enthusiasm that has not been seen since the early 1990s, when the modernist movement was starting to take off. Lastly, thus far Piedmont has been a net beneficiary of climate change as witnessed by the greater frequency of good to great vintages. It wasn’t always that way. In fact, all of this has happened only within the last 25 years or so. One of the highlights of my youth was the annual family vacation I took with my parents and sister. My parents worked brutal hours building their business. But every year they took a few weeks off. Most years we travelled to Italy. Naturally, the priority was visiting relatives. Once that was arranged, my sister and I took turns choosing a new destination to explore. She is the intellectual, so she took us places like Rome and Florence. Me, not so much. I mean, I appreciate the art cities, of course, but I wanted to eat and drink. So, when it was my turn we headed straight to Emilia-Romagna and Piedmont. In 1997, we traveled to Piedmont, a region I had wanted to visit for years. I already loved the wines, the mystique of Nebbiolo and all the history around it. We stayed in a small farmhouse in the hills outside Canelli, in the heart of Moscato country. Each day we ventured to a new village. I was hooked. By 2000 I was living in Italy and spending much of my free time in the Langhe. That was just twenty years ago, nothing, and yet Piedmont was such a different place than it is today. The wine press, both domestic and international, was almost exclusively focused on wines from the 'modern' school. These were the wines that won all the awards, while wines from more 'traditional' producers were largely ignored, including pretty much all the names that are so coveted today. The press took great delight in creating a fictitious drama between these two schools of winemaking and their leading exponents. The conflict between the modernists and traditionalists was always exaggerated, but it certainly made for a good show. A curious oenophile visiting Piedmont at the time would have surely been struck by the differences in the wines. There were plenty of traditionally made wines marred by dirty cellars and old barrels, but also a raft of overoaked, overextracted Barolos that in the end did not age well. There was no such thing as allocated wines. Well, that is not exactly true. The allocated wines were the Nebbiolo-based blends that were all the rage back then. Barolo was a tough sell. Readers might find it hard to believe, but buying wine was easy back then, either at wineries or in local shops. Everything was available. Today, the excesses of the past have been largely addressed, Piedmont has experienced a number of stellar vintages, and across the board, the wines are better than ever. It’s an exciting time. --Antonio Galloni, The 2018 Barolos, Part 2, October 2022 To read Antonio’s full report and learn more about the buyer’s market, check out the full article on Vinous now .

Renato Ratti

Marcenasco Barolo Nebbiolo 2018

Delectable Wine

The 2018 Barolo Marcenasco is a soft, open-knit wine that shows the challenges of the growing season in its light-bodied structure and ethereal personality. Sweet red cherry, cedar, pipe tobacco and cinnamon are nicely lifted, but there's just not much depth on the mid-palate, which in turns makes the tannins feel aggressive. (Antonio Galloni, Vinous, October 2022)
— a year ago

Luigi Vico

Prapò Barolo Nebbiolo 2018

Delectable Wine

The 2018 Barolo Prapò is a dark, dense wine. Red cherry, plum, tobacco, cedar, spice, smoke, cured meats and menthol add do an impression of brooding intensity. The Prapò has more body and overall depth than the Serralunga Barolo, but also quite a bit more tannin. I have a slight preference for the Serralunga bottling in this vintage. (Antonio Galloni, Vinous, October 2022)
— a year ago

Diego Conterno

Le Coste di monforte Barolo Nebbiolo 2018

Delectable Wine

The 2018 Barolo Le Coste di Monforte is a gentle, surprisingly open-knit wine from a site where Barolos tend to show quite a bit more muscle. Then again, this is 2018. Effusive floral and spice aromatics meld into a core of sweet red-fleshed fruit. Orange peel, cinnamon and rose petal lift the bright, vibrant finish very nicely. The 2018 is impeccably done. (Antonio Galloni, Vinous, October 2022)
— a year ago